Looking Back: The Uptown-Downtown Divide Gets an Upgrade
● By Jillian Becquet
By: Jillian Becquet Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the John Fred’k ‘Doc’ McGregor Collection at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
When the City Beautiful Movement took hold in America at the turn of the 20th century, several major developments in Corpus Christi had just failed amid the economic crash of the 1890s. The movement made its way to Corpus Christi’s Mayor, Roy Miller, who sought to enrich the city with beautification projects. Miller’s vision came to life with the support of community property owners and voters. What came to be known as the Broadway Bluff Improvement took an erosion-prone bluff from unattractive to a distinctive border between two sections of the business district, uptown and downtown.
Supported by voters via bond, the improvements included the commission of Corpus Christi’s first piece of public art, the sculpture Queen of the Sea by Pompeo Coppini, completed in 1914. The bluff was also graded, and retaining walls were built between Upper and Lower Broadway. Walkability of the area was improved with staircases and balustrades, as well as the pedestrian tunnel, opened in 1929, that reaches between Peoples and Schatzel and Upper Broadway.
Nearly 100 years later, these improvements all still stand today. The tunnel opens only for special occasions, like this year’s inaugural Frontera festival November 2-4. The other improvements can be enjoyed every day we visit the area, thanks to Mayor Roy Miller’s dedication to making our city beautiful.